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  • +27 62 086 1158
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    Salt River,
    Cape Town, 7925

About Us

What is the Eden Alternative?

1 Introduction
2 The people making the changes
3 Creating homes that make life worth living
4 Proven impact
5 Eden Alternative South Africa® − Our journey
6 What do we offer?
1 Introduction

The Eden Alternative is a small, not-for-profit organisation making a big difference in the world. The core belief is that ageing should be a continued stage of development and growth, rather than a period of decline. Building on this new paradigm, the approach affirms that care is not a one-way street but, rather, a collaborative partnership.

The Eden Alternative aims to redesign the experience of ageing around the world. The bulk of our work to date has been in de-institutionalising the culture and environment of today’s nursing homes. We are, however, expanding to all care settings, including home care and residential care for people living with different abilities.

This documentary style video offers an in-depth look at The Eden Alternative. Creating Home - The Eden Alternative

2 The people making the changes

Dr Bill Thomas, co-founder of the Eden Alternative, will never forget the words of an elder, or the beautiful blue eyes that stared up at him, as she reached up to draw him nearer and whispered, “Doctor, I am so lonely.”

The Harvard-educated physician and board-certified geriatrician searched his medical texts and found nothing about healing loneliness. This inspired him to watch and listen to life in the nursing home where he worked. Over time, Dr Thomas realised that the institutional model of care breeds three killers of the human spirit: loneliness, helplessness and boredom.

And so he began to think about a different kind of world. He envisioned a care environment in which people could live and thrive, not just wait to die. Working with his wife, Judith Meyers-Thomas, this vision of a human habitat began to unfold, and it has since changed the lives of elders, and their care partners, across America and beyond.

Since 1991, the Eden Alternative has trained over 30,000 Eden Associates and now claims over 400 registered homes across 18 countries in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, Scandinavia and South Africa. The staff and management of these homes continue to work towards meaningful culture change through ongoing training and a continued dedication to creating a life worth living for those in their care.

3 Creating homes that make life worth living

The Eden Alternative recognises that loneliness, helplessness and boredom are the real killers during older age, not physical ailments. The plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom were thus the initial focus of the Eden Alternative’s philosophy. But as a living and learning organisation, the Eden Alternative has broadened its focus to include the seven Domains of Well-Being to help everyone experience optimum well-being and a life worth living.

The Eden Alternative shows how companionship, the opportunity to give meaningful care to other living things, and the variety and spontaneity that mark an enlivened environment can succeed where pills and therapies often fail. Places that have adopted the Eden Alternative are typically filled with plants and animals, and are regularly visited by children.

The Eden Alternative is about changing the culture of long-term-care organisations. The departmentalised, task-orientation of the current institutional model has created a culture that is characterised by pessimism, cynicism and stinginess. By moving away from the top-down bureaucratic approach to management − and moving decision-making closer to the elders − Eden Alternative organisations help support a meaningful life for their elders. The Eden Alternative firmly believes that culture change unfolds one relationship at a time, and that deep change can only occur when the entire continuum of care is involved. Organisations that integrate the Eden Alternative principles can become known to others by joining the Eden SA Registry.

4 Proven impact

Studies show that the Eden Alternative is a powerful tool for improving the quality of life and quality of care for those living in care communities. In addition, organisations that have adopted Eden as an organisational-wide philosophy benefit from improved staff satisfaction and retention, and significant decreases in the overuse of medications and restraints. Most importantly, the elders, supported by their caregivers, can once again direct their own daily lives.

Most recent research:


5 Eden Alternative South Africa® − Our journey

The Eden Alternative was established in South Africa by Rayne Stroebel, the owner and Managing Director of GERATEC. After completing training in the United Kingdom and in Switzerland, Rayne was appointed as the Eden Alternative International Regional Coordinator for South Africa by the US Eden Alternative Home Office in November 2011.

The Eden Alternative speaks a universal language of growth and nurturing, creating environments in which elders and care partners can flourish. In South Africa, the Eden Alternative is a non-profit company (NPC: 2012/080984/08) that provides training and consultancy services for the long-term care sector. See our training offerings.

Eden Alternative South Africa is a Licensee of The Eden Alternative, Inc. Rochester, NY, USA.


Eden Alternative South Africa commits to comply with and give full effect to the principles, values and guidelines which constitute The Independent Code of Governance for Non-Profit Organisations in South Africa.


6 What do we offer?

The Eden Alternative in South Africa offers training, consulting services and outreach to help long-term-care facilities transform their culture of care.

Culture change is the common name for a global initiative focussed on transforming care from an institutional model to person-directed values and practices that put the individual first. The transformation process involves changes in personal growth, organisational practices and physical environments, as well as the development of relationships at all levels and in all workforces.

Support and guidance is vital to ensure long-term sustainability.

Mission, Vision and Values

Our Vision
To inspire and promote change in the aged care sector in South Africa through informing and training in the Eden Alternative philosophy.
Our Mission
To improve the well-being of elders and their care partners by transforming the communities in which they live and work, through the implementation of the Ten Principles of the Eden Alternative philosophy.
Our Values
Autonomy, dignity, integrity, trust and commitment.

The Eden Alternative Principles

The three plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom account for the bulk of suffering among elders.
An elder-centred community commits to creating a human habitat where life revolves around close and continuing contact with people of all ages and abilities, as well as plants and animals. It is these relationships that provide the young and old alike with a pathway to a life worth living.
Loving companionship is the antidote to loneliness. Elders deserve easy access to human and animal companionship.
An elder-centred community creates opportunity to give as well as receive care. This is the antidote to helplessness.
An elder-centred community imbues daily life with variety and spontaneity by creating an environment in which unexpected and unpredictable interactions and happenings can take place. This is the antidote to boredom.
Meaningless activity corrodes the human spirit. The opportunity to do things that we find meaningful is essential to human health.
Medical treatment should be the servant of genuine human caring, never its master.
An elder-centred community honours its elders by de-emphasising top-down, bureaucratic authority, seeking instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority into the hands of the elders, or into the hands of those closest to them.
Creating an elder-centred community is a never-ending process. Human growth must never be separated from human life.
Wise leadership is the lifeblood of any struggle against the three plagues. For it, there can be no substitute.

Our Partners

Our partners are organizations that align with the Eden Alternative Philosophy and the culture change movement.

Our Board of Directors

Our Founder Members were, Sanetta du Toit, Sylvia Birkhead, Anneke Bezuidenhout and Rayne Stroebel. Sanetta and Sylvia are both occupational therapists who passionately supported and still support the Eden Alternative philosophy in everything they do. Dr Sanetta du Toit, Eden Alternative South Africa Director from 2013 – 2018, is currently employed by the University of Sydney, Australia. Her continued association with Eden Alternative South Africa includes contributions to the newsletter to share research, experiences and insights in aged care. She is also a member of the Eden International Research Committee.

Pieter Marais


Anneke Bezuidenhout

Director, Founder Member

Rayne Stroebel

Director, Founder Member

Eden International

United States

Australia & New Zealand

Canada (Eastern)

Canada (Western)

Denmark, Finland, Norway

Faroe Islands




United Kingdom